How Your Memory Can Affect Your Appetite

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Raise your hand if you’ve heard this warning before: Avoid mindless eating.

Makes sense right? Snacking on a bag of chips in front of the TV, or eating right out ice cream container, you’ll probably end up consuming more calories than you realized. Now, we know there’s probably another negative effect, the memory of your previous meal may have a bigger influence on your appetite than the actual size of the meal.

Researchers from the University of Bristol gathered 100 volunteers, both men and women. Before lunch, half were shown 300ml (10 oz), and the other half were shown 500 ml (17 oz) of soup. Then — with the help of a hidden tube that drained or filled the bowl — half of the participants either ate more, or less than the amount they were shown.

Immediately after lunch, participants hunger levels depended on how much they actually ate. However, two and three hours after meal hunger was predicted by the perceived amount and not the actual amount. In other words, those that THOUGHT they ate the larger portion (even if they didn’t) reported significantly less hunger.

That common tip to eat meals on smaller plates doesn’t seem so weird now does it?

A few other tips to help you avoid mindless eating: 

  • With snacks, always serve yourself in a bowl or on a plate. So you can see how much you’re eating.
  • Eat at the dining room table, instead of in front of the TV, and take your time to enjoy the meal.
  • A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that restaurant-goers who eat with really big forks (20 percent bigger than a normal fork you’d find at a restaurant) eat less food and leave more on their plates than people who eat with really small forks.
  • Studies show that people eat about 92 percent of what they serve themselves. So go for smaller portions, it may just be enough to fill you up, without overeating.
  • Keep the junk food out of the house. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it.

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